Glynne, please tell us about The Angel Network.
The Angel Network is a voluntary, non-profit organization which began in November 2015 – because of the need by so many who have so little. Our aim from the start has always been to give a hand up as opposed to a hand out as we don’t want people to be reliant on us. Unfortunately with Covid-19, it’s all about handouts to save millions from dying of starvation.
We receive no government funding and rely purely on donations. We incur no running costs, and nobody earns a salary. Every single cent received goes directly to where it is intended.
We do not give money but rather provide food and clothing, pay schools and universities directly as well as landlords. We have branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
Over the past four and a half years, we have been instrumental in assisting to feed, clothe, house and educate over 30 000 citizens across six provinces in our country, mainly orphaned and vulnerable children.
We, together with 40 CANS (community action network) operating within The Angel Network framework, have provided over 650 000 meals. What started off as almost a “cottage industry” organization handing out Easter eggs, blankets and Christmas boxes. We have evolved into something that has been able to provide prosthetic limbs, a glass eye, dozens of wheelchairs, laptops and iPads, sophisticated eye gaze and hearing aid systems (to name but a few).
We operate via social media and have over 25 000 members on Facebook worldwide. We have built up good relationships with our members/donors who often are so donor fatigued but love being able to donate a pair of school shoes for R60 or a box of Easter eggs. We always feedback after an appeal so that everyone who has donated knows exactly where their money has gone. Before Covid-19 we were assisting 50 NPO‘ season, safe havens, outreach centre’s and orphanages, which together looked after close to 40 000 people. Currently, that number has risen to over 90, which means over 100 000 people.
Giving a hand UP not a handout…
We have given a hand up to many people who can now support their families. We have been able to set a man up in his own grocery store. We have provided second-hand clothing to several people who make a livelihood from selling them. We have put top students through school and university. We have found jobs for people who are handing out their CV’s on the side of the road. We started an initiative called #investinme, where job seekers post their CV on our site and employers can offer them employment. We have set a lady up to run a sewing school by getting machines and fabric donated as well as been able to send disabled men on a training programme to teach them to become tailors.
Please tell us about you and what motivates you…
I believe that starting The Angel Network was something I was always supposed to do. From a young age, I wondered what my purpose was; it really worried me. The day I started The Angel Network, I knew that I had found my purpose.
In PE where I grew up, there was a wonderful lady, Rayna Levin, a close family friend, who was always involved in charity. I was in awe of her and used to think “If she can do what she does, why doesn’t everyone”. I wanted to be her! Sadly she passed away far too young about ten years ago, but I hope she knows that she was definitely my role model. I started a branch of The Jewish Women’s Benevolent Society with my business partner, Leigh Brouze, about 14 years ago. I am still involved, although to a lesser degree.
I am motivated by making a difference in people’s lives – it’s really so simple. There are those that have and want to help, and there are those who need to be helped. We just marry the two.
I am the oldest of three, I have two brothers. I was born in CT, grew up in PE and matriculated from Theodor Herzl. I obtained a Bachelor of Social Science degree from UCT and then went on to live in Israel for almost four years, where I studied Hotel Management before moving to London and working at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in HR. I moved to Johannesburg in 1990 and worked for Quest Personnel for ten years before starting my own recruitment company, Pivotal Placements, with Leigh Brouze, which we still run today.
I am happily married to my husband, Lawrence, for 25 years. We have two grown-up sons and three Labradors. Alex is 23, he is a pilot and David is 20 and an entrepreneur. I have always maintained that we, at The Angel Network, get more out of giving than the beneficiaries get from receiving. It is humbling and purpose-driven and makes us so grateful for the lives we have.
Are you a part of an essential services team?
We are not part of an essential services team formally. We do have permits to distribute food.
Who are you working closely with?
We work closely with 90 different organizations.
If you are on the ground, what are you seeing?
The needs are overwhelming. People queue for hours, and sadly when the handouts are finished, there are often still hundreds of people waiting for food. People cry when they receive a food hamper. The requests are often heartbreaking and soul-destroying, like the father who was ready to take his own life because he couldn’t give his family bread. Another example is a Gogo who had to get her terminally ill granddaughter back to Zimbabwe so that she could spend her remaining days with her family. She couldn’t go, although transport had been arranged and paid for, as she had no money for Nappies for the grown child who has become incontinent.
Please share something/someone’s story that has stuck with you?
There are so many. Thembi Tshabalala, one of our beneficiaries, works tirelessly to feed so many in informal settlements. One day a white family approached her and asked her to their home. They showed her their empty cupboards. She was so sad for them that she took some of the allotted parcels and gave them food – an example of strangers helping strangers.
There are unemployed women in Alex who assist with food distribution, and many that we work with who are helping children and the elderly without receiving one cent, just generosity of spirit.
Our Vuvuzela men and women who are unemployed and live in Soweto. They take it upon themselves to blow their Vuvuzela’s at 3.30 am and escort women to public transport daily and then escort them safely home at night. They don’t earn one cent but have brought down crime substantially in their area – youngsters who are just kind, assisting those in need. The stories are beautiful and heartwarming.
It is in bad times we see the best and worst of people…
YES! People have been so overwhelmingly generous and kind, with their time, money, ideas, donations and help. It is just beautiful when we post an appeal and people we have never met put up their hands to help people they will never meet. It is Ubuntu in the truest sense of the word.
What message do you have for people who are reading?
In the words of Helen Keller “Alone, we can do so little, together we can do so much”. We are all in this together, and we need to take care of ourselves and each other. We all feel hunger and anxiety in the same way. Our chances of survival as a society are enhanced when we think beyond ourselves and help others. We need to be kind, compassionate, thoughtful and considerate.
We are resilient, and this too shall pass, perhaps like a kidney stone, but it will pass, and we will have learned so many valuable lessons as a result of what we have endured.
How can we help?
Join our Facebook page and/or visit our website to see how you can get involved. People are also welcome to email me should they have any queries. We are a registered PBO (Public benefit organization), so we can issue 18a certificates for donations. Thank you, Sandy, once again for the interest you have shown in The Angel Network.
Thank YOU for supporting us.
The Angel Network
6272 6312 391
The Angel Network
6272 6312 391